Romsey Men’s 1st XI 5 – 3 Southampton University Men’s 1st XI
Romsey got top marks for their performance when hosting the students on Saturday and in doing so got their crunch month of fixtures off to a perfect start. It was an entertaining and free flowing match from the beginning with both sides looking to play a positive passing game, but Romsey’s commitment to their high pressing plan made the difference as they frequently choked off the Uni’s outlets from defence and won possession in dangerous areas.
The early exchanges were even and Romsey survived a penalty corner opportunity as goalkeeper Lozz Scott and captain Dave Miles combined to divert a low dragflick around the post. The students had won the reverse fixture on the back of a superior ability to convert such opportunities and whilst Romsey failed in their aim of limiting the number this time around, they did manage to prevent the Uni from converting most of them.
The hosts went in front with a penalty corner of their own as a dragflick was partially charged down by a defensive runner’s stick, but the ball fell kindly for Romsey and injector Harry Goodchild volleyed the rebound in.
The Romsey back line of Miles, David Edwards and man of the match Joe Welch did a great job of keeping the hard running Uni front line subdued in open play, with good shielding work done by Goodchild and Rob Kerr in the holding midfield positions ahead of them. However the students turned several long corner situations into penalty corners as they skipped past flat stick tackles and drove into the area, eventually making one count with a low dragflick.
When the ball hit a Romsey foot outside the Uni ‘D’ the umpire played advantage, but a mis-hit from the visitors soon put them in trouble as Jack Forrest-Charde won possession. He picked out Lewis Birch with a pass into the area and the striker made no mistake with a deadly backstick finish rifled just inside the far post.
Romsey struck a crucial blow with the final play before half-time as they scored from a penalty corner to set up a two goal cushion. The ball was slipped right and when the goalkeeper overcommitted in anticipation of a return ball to the middle of the area, Rob Kerr showed a cool head to change the planned play and flick the ball directly into the exposed net.
It was no surprise that the students came out fired up after half time but Romsey did not help themselves as they often conceded possession too cheaply in the opening ten minutes. They soon paid the price as the visitors scored from a penalty corner, winning the battle for the rebound after Scott saved the initial effort.
The students wasted a perfect opportunity to equalise when the Romsey defence gave the ball straight to the Uni centre forward, but Scott was quick off his line to deny the initial effort and when an attacker following up failed to gather the rebound the hosts got away from the error unscathed.
Romsey improved their passing and punished the wastefulness at the other end with a fourth goal that was very similar to their second, as Forrest-Charde won the ball outside the area and slipped it to Birch. He again fired a reverse stick shot goalwards and whilst this time the ball deflected off the inside of the ‘keeper’s leg, it still had enough power to make it over the line.

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The home side seemed determined not to make things simple and gave away several penalty corners due to their rash tackling. They survived with one rebound shot hitting the post but saw their two goal advantage eaten into once more after losing the ball near the halfway line; a sliding Scott made a partial block but the striker had some fortune when the ball looped up for him to volley in. Romsey responded after good work by Jack Murray down the left wing led to a scramble for the ball inside the ‘D’, with Ben Mullan making sure of the points by scoring Romsey’s fifth.
With only one of the other sides in the relegation battle picking up points on Saturday, Romsey closed the gap and there is everything to play for as they face the other five sides in the bottom half of the table in the next six weeks, beginning with a trip to Sunbury this weekend.
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